IDF carries out 400 coronavirus tests in Beitar Illit
While the Health Ministry has been ordered to carry out over 30,000 coronavirus tests across the country, on Friday only 5,980 testing kits arrived at coronavirus laboratories to be tested.
By ANNA AHRONHEIM
Troops from the IDF’s Etzion Brigade along with Magen David Adom carried out some 400 coronavirus tests in the settlement of Beitar Illit on Sunday.The number of individuals diagnosed with the highly infectious virus climbed to over 10,878 cases by Sunday afternoon. While the large majority of cases are mild, 123 people are on ventilators and over 100 people have died.While the Health Ministry has been ordered to carry out over 30,000 coronavirus tests across the country, on Friday only 5,980 testing kits arrived at coronavirus laboratories to be tested.Though the update on the number of coronavirus tests published by the Health Ministry showed a decrease, Lt.-Col. Yakir Abergil, Deputy Commander of the Etzion Brigade told The Jerusalem Post that troops began testing community members with the national rescue service for the deadly virus on Sunday and hopes to increase the number of tests as time goes on.The ultra-Orthodox community of Beitar Illit with a population of 56,746, has been hit hard by the virus. The IDF has been helping Magen David Adom to test Israelis for the virus, with 150 crews traveling to homes across the country where someone is suspected of being sick.As part of the IDF's effort to curb the spread of the virus in the ultra-Orthodox sector, the former Head of the Central Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Roni Numa is overseeing the operations in Bnei Brak, Brig.-Gen.(res.) Gal Hirsch in Elad, and Maj,-Gen. (res.) Yossi Bachar is doing the same in Beitar Illit.Hundreds of troops are also delivering over 5,000 packages of food and other essentials to the elderly and sick in the city, Abergil said, explaining that they plan to deliver the same amount this week depending on the needs of the residents as well as to other communities under the brigade’s area of responsibility.“There is great cooperation with the city, with the Home Front Command, and of course the help from the logistical corps,” he said. “We have a control center which is working with the municipality to gather the all names, numbers and addresses of residents who are in need of help. They know every family which needs help. And these families will get help without needing to leave their homes.”The troops who deliver the products are provided with face masks and gloves and do not enter the residences. “There's no touching with the people who need help, soldiers knock on doors and leave the food on the ground,” Abergil said, adding that residents are truly appreciating what troops are doing.According to Maj. Sultan Eyadat, an officer in the brigade's Reconnaissance Battalion, while residents usually ask troops to bring them specific food goods or missing medicines, residents have also asked that food they prepared for family members also be delivered by troops.“It’s really really meaningful to be able to get to people and give them what they need, to bring what they need to their door,” Eyadat told The Post.According to Eyadat, kids are excited to see the troops and people on the street and neighbors clap and salute them when they deliver the food.“The residents are really happy that we are coming to them and helping them. I will remember this mission my entire life.”“Corona is not something we were prepared for, we never learned about, it's something that we learn on the ground and in cooperation with others. Everyone understands the mission, troops understand that it's a mission of saving lives,” Abergil said. “We see a real meaning in this mission, the Etzion Brigade is prepared to do anything the residents need.”